‘Effective state media’: Big Tech in legal jeopardy after Twitter censorship reveals

by WorldTribune Staff, December 12, 2022

Revelations in a lawsuit and in the recently released Twitter Files that Twitter executives met weekly with the FBI and other federal operatives about censoring content before the 2020 election will have consequences, analysts say.

The public disclosures essentially kills Big Tech companies’ defense that they can suppress whatever speech they want because they’re private companies, not government actors.

What also emerged from new Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s release of the files is “the notion of an effective state media in America — an alliance of media, business and political figures who act, not out of government compulsion, but out of personal conviction,” law professor Jonathan Turley noted.

“The notion of a privately-run state media is reinforced by the response to these disturbing disclosures — a virtual news blackout, with most major media offering little coverage of the disclosures. Just as Twitter suppressed dissenting or opposing views in a myriad of ways, many in the media are minimizing coverage of this scandal,” Turley added.

In a censorship lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Elvis Chan admitted that intelligence agencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI hosted weekly meetings with Big Tech ahead of the 2020 election in an attempt to encourage censorship. Chan was present and gave direction at most of the meetings.

Chan also confirmed that the FBI maintained a working censorship relationship with Twitter head of trust and safety Yoel Roth “until the day” after the 2022 midterm election.

Roth is revealed in the Twitter Files to have been a key cog in Twitter’s pre-Elon Musk censorship regime.

The Twitter Files “shatter past denials of ‘shadow banning’ and other suppression techniques targeting disfavored viewpoints,” Turley noted. “That includes denials by former CEO Jack Dorsey under oath before Congress and public denials by top corporate executives. The legal ramifications will become clearer as more information emerges. Yet, a far more significant problem already is confirmed in these files: the existential threat of corporate censors to free speech.”

Journalist Matt Taibbi confirmed that Twitter executives met weekly with FBI, Homeland Security and national intelligence officials to discuss “disinformation” they felt should be removed from the site. Those discussions apparently included the Hunter Biden laptop story.

“You don’t need a state ministry of information if the media voluntarily maintains official narratives and suppresses dissenting views,” Turley wrote.

Twitter Files, four batches over 10 days, revealed a censorship regime at Twitter “which no doubt is replicated across Big Tech, including at Facebook and Google,” noted the New York Post’s Miranda Devine, who broke the Hunter Biden laptop story in October 2020.

Whatever happened to “All the news that’s fit to print,” and “Democracy dies in darkness,” the respective mottos of the two most influential newspapers in the country, The New York Times and The Washington Post?

“The best description for what the Times and WaPo are doing is ‘totschweigetaktik,’ a great German word for ‘death by silence,’ a tactic to kill ideas or news stories by ignoring them,” Devine wrote. “Apart from defending Twitter’s 2020 decision to censor The Post, the Times has not covered the revelations of the last 10 days, save a couple of stories smearing Twitter’s freedom-minded new owner, Elon Musk.”

In speaking to media figures in April, former President Barack Obama called upon “our better angels” to shape voters’ opinions.

Joe Biden has said social media editors are vital to protecting citizens from their own misguided values or assumptions. Without enlightened editors, he asked, “How do people know the truth?”

“Such comments show total contempt for the ability of people to make up their own minds on subjects ranging from elections to vaccinations,” Turley wrote.

Chan said the government managed to get Big Tech to remove or censor content at least 50 percent of the time.

In his testimony, Chan confirmed what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had told podcast host Joe Rogan in August 2022. Zuckerberg admitted it was the FBI’s regular suppression instructions that inspired Facebook to reduce the distribution of posts about Biden family corruption.

“Chan’s testimony, combined with admissions from Silicon Valley’s top censors, demonstrates that the speech-stifling objectives and actions of Big Tech and the government are indistinguishable,” Jordan Boyd wrote for The Federalist on Dec. 7. “Big Tech is so in sync with big brother that the former reliably does the bidding of the latter — increasingly without even needing to be asked. That kind of censorship is not protected by the First Amendment; there’s no longer anything “private” about these malign actors.”

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